A Porsche on electricity, a bit then. A strange sight, such a Cayenne E-Hybrid at the charging station. Under the shiny steel lives a six-cylinder turbo together with a 136 hp electric motor. It allows it to drive up to 44 kilometers electrically with a maximum speed of 135 kilometers per hour. For example, says Porsche, “theoretically you can drive a whole working day through the city without switching on the combustion engine.” The question of whether you are better off there with a bicycle is not something you should ask Porsche. It doesn’t have a turbo.
What geek would use such a huge power SUV as a city car? He’s there for the Highway and there, quite reassuring, the electric auxiliary motor is just the faithful servant of a rousing-sounding turbo. Shoulder to shoulder they come to 462 hp and a pulling power of 700 Nm, nothing to worry about. It is a bit heavier, 2,370 kilos against 2,060 for the current-free Cayenne with the same petrol engine. Driving is like running with a full backpack. Enough power in the legs but a bit sluggish, you can feel the batteries hanging. On the other hand, you carry more than 300 kilos less guilt with you and you drive clean as long as you can. In a Porsche.
Verily, the new times are a battleground for the worldview. But why not? It’s a Porsche. The more engines, the more joy. My personal speed record, 330, was achieved in a plug-in hybrid, also from Porsche. The E-Hybrid reaches 253. It seems sufficient to me.
Yet for Porsche, the hybrid road is above all a must. It has no small diesels or economical city cars that increase the average CO2 of volume brands in anticipation of further electrification.2-press emissions. The brand pays a high ecological price for the six and eight-cylinder engines that have always been Porsche’s core business. A Cayenne Turbo still blows 272 grams per kilometer into the air and the dirtiest 911s are not far below. The relatively clean four-cylinder in the Boxter, Cayman and Macan are just plasters on that wound. What Porsche must, and will, build electric cars.
How? The 911, the crown jewel, is a sports car that has to make noise, believable only with a six-cylinder boxer. An electric 911 seems unthinkable, quite apart from the question of whether a coupé has enough room for a battery pack that will keep the car going for at least four hundred kilometers. That is why the first electric Porsche is a completely new model. In 2020, the Taycan, a four-door coupé with 600 hp. And it will be a success because it is a Porsche.
So the Porsche I drive is an intermediate Porsche. That is his Achilles heel, although there is nothing wrong with it. A Porsche goes athletic all the way, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It can’t be a sprinter with a battery beer belly. The Cayenne shows how even a powerful, fairytale profitable company is slowly cornered by the paradigm shift of the energy transition. Porsche itself has good cards to survive this turnaround. With a name like that, you don’t have to worry about the little ones: people pay anyway. It can also gratefully refer to the first hybrid that namesake Ferdinand developed more than a century ago, the Lohner-Porsche with electric motors in the wheels. Look at us, progress has always been tradition here!
This does not affect the fact that Porsche will soon have to start at zero in a market tapped by Tesla, where new parties such as Byton and Lucid are now taking promising first steps. In California Lucid is working on the Air, a phenomenal über-limousine with a top speed of 378 kilometers per hour, it could go into production in 2020. The Chinese Byton, run by a star cast under ex-BMW man Carsten Breitfeld, will come next year with an electric SUV for very modest prices; it is reported to cost about half the price of a Cayenne. In that light, it is highly uncertain how Porsche’s competitive position will develop in the power era, as the technology that gave the company its leadership role is gradually being wiped out.
One day the day will come when we conclude that that delicious in-between Porsche was the last real one. At the drinks table of the future, old petrolheads hear me say: “I once drove 1 in 14 in a Cayenne.” Then we get drunk and let our autonomous Taycans deliver us home, sadder and wiser.